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With no money to pay for salaries or imports, Mazen Ramadan, an economic advisor to the National Transitional Council (NTC), said a solution must be found to tap cash abroad, including the more than $30 billion frozen in the United States alone.
He said salaries for past month had not yet been paid and that power shortages in the east of the country were being caused by the lack of funds.
I asked Sherif if his piggy bank was completely empty, if he's a Central Banker with nothing in the bank. He said that as a baseline, they found $1 billion of bullion in Benghazi dating from 1964 - a stash in that branch of the Central Bank, from the days of the gold standard and the Libyan monarchy. That leaves a $2 billion shortfall in the operating budget the TNC has set out for the next six months.
'But some of these projects are not economically feasible...they were just projects [to curry] political favour.' Sherif's proposed divestment would mean a eco-strategic realignment - under the Qaddafi regime, cash grants and major investments were guided by geopolitics, a way to build favor and wield clout across Africa.
“We are living our life business as usual, or almost business as usual. Things are available, people are getting their salaries, you go to shops and they are open,” he said. “If the international community doesn’t facilitate access to our frozen money we may go into crisis, but up to now we are fine.”